OpinionsGender BenderWhat about a Porsche?

What about a Porsche?

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ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — Porsches are not a rare sight in the streets here where I am at the moment, nor are other expensive cars in this rich City.

But a Porsche has a special cachet as a sleek, sexy, powerful, prestigious brand that presumably lends its owner superior status, and membership in an elite community of Porsche owners.

I remember a young lawyer I once knew here, starting to make his way up the steep career ladder who used to say he’d have it made when he could buy a Porsche. The stuff male dreams are made of, apparently.

But what gives with P.Noy? Was it that long ago that he made a big deal of breaking for lunch with a hotdog on a New York sidewalk during an official visit?

Or that he refused the wang-wang privilege of lording it over other motorists on Manila’s congested roads? One news item I saw had him saying that driving a Porsche would give him a reason to smile. On which roads, one wonders.

Switzerland consistently figures among the Top 6 or 7 countries with the highest gross national product per capita income. For a small country, it has a strong and diversified economy based on highly developed industry, trade, agriculture, tourism, not to forget its famous/notorious banking sector.

Its citizens and residents live well, assured of political stability, and almost every needed social service. The economic elite can indulge their penchant for luxury if they so wish, without any fuss from less-privileged segments of society.

At most, perhaps some few politically- correct people may look with disdain at the self-indulgence of the rich.

It’s obviously a totally different world in the context of high income inequality in the Philippines, when at least half of the population is poor, where hunger rates are tracked, where access to potable water, basic health care, and all the rest of the human development indices are very far from acceptable.

In such a context, no one should indulge in unconscionable spending for luxury, tantamount to a slap in the face of the poor.

P.Noy gets bad marks for lack of delicadeza at the least, and worse, lack of solidarity with the majority of the people he has committed to serve.

But there’s also the odd matter of P.Noy caving in to the stereotypical urge for male high-status toys, in this case an expensive, sporty, high performance car, consistently awarded as “most prestigious brand.”

Somehow, his past public behavior led me, mistakenly it seems, to expect he’d know better or could see through the immaturity of such an impulse.

Of course, women, too, soft targets of advertising for luxury brands and goods that imply or promise raised status, generally cave in. With women, there may be an added aspect of conscious or unconscious attempts to overcome the gender’s “second-class” social status.

The luxury industry is certainly a strong economic sector in some countries, creating products, jobs and turning large profits. In Switzerland, it’s luxury watches, jewelry, and even ski resorts for the rich.

This week, the World Economic Forum is taking place in the chic ski resort of Davos, that annual gathering of chief executives, government leaders, academics, and other public figures who debate and propose remedies to the world’s economic ills.

Among today’s headlines is one about the surge in income inequality in many countries, including in developed countries, where economic elites “pull even farther ahead “ from the majority of their compatriots.

Nothing new to us in the Philippines where the disparity between rich and poor seems to grow.

P.Noy’s spending millions of pesos on a luxury toy was a stark and ill-considered demonstration of that disparity he should be committed to eradicate.

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